WASHINGTON - The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has joined with allied organizations in a group letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee urging that it expeditiously report a comprehensive bill to the Senate floor that would increase U.S. domestic supply of natural gas. According to the SBE Council, the current lack of natural gas supplies is translating into significant cost increases for small businesses and consumers.

"Natural gas prices are over 300 percent of 1998 levels," the coalition wrote. "Supply remains tenuous and according to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. production declined by 4.9 percent from 2001 to 2004 while Canadian imports have fallen significantly. The gravity of the supply challenge means we must increase access to natural gas both on and offshore.

"We are a country blessed with ample natural resources, yet significant amounts of natural gas remain off-limits... An April 19, 2005 report to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said, ‘Approximately 85 percent of the lower 48 state offshore acreage has been placed under congressional and executive moratoria.' Given these vast areas placed off limits, it is a reasonable expectation that there are areas where moratoria could be safely removed."

The letter concluded, "Our organizations support increased domestic production because it will lower the price of natural gas and electricity, increase jobs, increase investment in the U.S., and increase leasing royalties to federal and state governments. We urge Congress to act expeditiously to promote development of domestic energy resources to help secure future economic growth and jobs for our nation."

Publication date: 05/23/2005